Tuesday, February 24, 2009

albany winter marathon: race report

it's hard to believe emmy, rob and i actually ran the albany winter marathon (instead of the cherry tree 10 miler) on sunday. not because of the race itself, but rather the weather conditions from start to finish were just plain nasty. we dodged a major snowstorm - and were left, instead, with unrelentingly raw, wet conditions. after a brief "dry"start to the race, we had, for varying periods, snow, sleet, rain, occasional dry spots, and wind - all under gray and dreary skies. amazingly, despite the lousy weather, we still had a great time!

the marathon basically consisted of 4 loops of the suny albany campus. the first loop was slightly different than the last three. we had a marker at the first mile, then at each 5 mile increment. a three person relay took place concurrently with the marathon, otherwise the starting field seemed an optimistically large group of people planning to run 26.2 miles in those conditions! i don't remember who told me this - "the course is flat" - but that was flat out wrong! there were a couple of decent hills lurking along the course.

i had planned on a 3:30 target for this event. originally, that goal was simply to re-qualify for boston. with boston 2009 closed, that didn't really matter any longer. now it would essentially be my first long run of the training year. in fact, it would be the longest distance i covered (either in training or at a race) since the stone cat trail marathon 3+ months earlier. my longest runs and or races since have been half marathons. even with post-run mileage tacked on, i haven't logged more than 20 miles in a given day in a long time. pretty pathetic :(

with that serious short-fall in training mileage hanging over me, i decided the best course of action would be an 8 minute pace for the first 20 miles - and then just pray for the best for the last 10k. with a 20 mile split of 2:42, i just about met that target.

here are those splits:

32:10:03 40:23:04
39:11:25 1:19:34
39:32:76 1:59:07
42:51:25 2:41:58

the last 6.2 miles, however, were another story. i seriously debated pulling the plug on my race at 20 miles because i was soaking wet, cold, and a decidedly unhappy camper. i wasn't short of energy, but i lacked any desire at all push on for the final loop. i had seen emmy and rob only once during the last 2 and a half hours - and had run the entire race to that point without uttering a word to another person (except "thanks" to the many volunteers out on the course). the only time i stopped moving forward during the entire event was at this mental low point.

after a minute or two of wallowing in self-pity, i mentally slapped myself - just like cher did, physically, to nick cage in "moonstuck" - and said "snap out of it!" somehow i restarted the running and went back out for the last loop. the final 3 miles or so were somewhat comical as two other runners and i played hopscotch - taking turns running out into the lead, walking a bit as the next runner took point, and the next, and so on.... amazingly, it got the job done!

here are the final splits:

44:46:12 3:26:44
13:05:70 3:39:50

8:24 pace

instead of waiting for emmy and rob to finish, i made a beeline for the athlete building. my poor conditioning was apparent when i made it back inside and found that my calves seized up as i changed into dry clothes. i suffered thru the most painful post-race 10-15 minute stretch in recent memory. finally, i walked it off, and managed to enjoy some post race soup (and even collected a finishers certificate). emmy and rob even managed to squeeze in post-race showers before we headed home.

but the real post-race highlight was the small detour we took over to the evans brewing company at the albany pump station. nothing erased the memory of all those wet dreary miles as quickly as the burger and beers did (okay, well maybe a hot shower - but mine had to wait until i got home).

here are my race photos.
here is emmy's race report (w/photos).


Anonymous said...

Good mental fitness! As important as physical fitness at times.
Congrats my friend.
See you on 3/8.

Van 1- Hall said...

way to stick it out, a marathon under the belt is better than a 20 miler any day of the week!

Ryan said...

Nice February run...and a good boot to the season ahead.